The Meaning of “No Actual Physical Control”

Phoenix, Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. That’s good news for drivers since it helps cut down on the number of accidents and traffic fatalities, but it is bad news for those who might have made a mistake and are now facing serious consequences, possibly including jail time. It is important that you work with an experienced DUI lawyer if you are facing these charges to help protect your driving record and possibly avoid conviction.

One possible DUI defense is a concept known as “no actual physical control.” This defense gets at whether you were in control of the vehicle while you were intoxicated. In some states, simply sitting in your vehicle with the keys in the ignition while you are intoxicated means that you can be charged with DUI. But in Phoenix, a DUI lawyer can show that even if you were in your vehicle, you did not have “actual physical control.”

no actual physical control

Understanding the Circumstances

Fortunately, the laws in Phoenix allow for a more common sense approach to the issue of whether or not you were driving or attempting to drive your vehicle while intoxicated. Simply being in the vehicle is not enough evidence to convict you. Prosecutors must also look at the circumstances surrounding your stop and arrest to determine your intent.

Therefore, if you are found parked at a rest stop or in a parking lot with the car turned off, you are unlikely to be convicted of DUI. If you have the car running because it is hot and you need the air conditioner on, you may not be convicted of DUI. The court has to weigh all the circumstances to determine whether you were a danger.

Some of the factors that are considered to determine actual physical control include:

  • Reasons that you pulled over
  • What you were doing when you were stopped by police
  • Whether the car was in park, neutral or drive
  • Whether the engine was running
  • Whether you had on the engine for the air conditioner or heat
  • Where you were parked at the time of the stop
  • Whether the parking brake was engaged

Determining actual physical control of the vehicle is not about checking off a list of factors. Evaluating the situation is certainly subjective, even with legal guidelines in place. That is why it is so important to work with an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer who can make a strong defense in your favor. Your attorney understands how the law can be applied to your case and will argue for how the circumstances show that you were not in actual physical control of your vehicle and did not pose a threat to other drivers (if applicable).

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Other DUI Defense Options

If arguing that you were not in actual physical control of your vehicle does not prove to be a viable DUI defense for your case, your attorney has many other options for either having the charges against you dismissed or getting the sentence and penalties reduced.

Some other legal options your DUI lawyer might explore include:

  • Showing that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to stop you
  • Showing that there was no probably cause to arrest you on DUI charges
  • Proving that your Miranda rights were violated
  • Proving that you were not given the right to speak to an attorney after your arrest (a specific Miranda right violation)
  • Arguing that there was no proof of your intoxication beyond the statement of one person (usually the officer), known as “corpus delicti”
  • Showing that you were tested for intoxication outside of the required time frame, which is within two hours of driving
  • Arguing that you were not given the right to obtain independent evidence, such as your own blood or urine test showing your level of intoxication
  • Arguing that there were problems with the test used to determine your intoxication, such as equipment issues

no actual physical control meaningThere are many known errors associated with breathalyzer and gas chromatograph tests, and challenging these tests can be an effective DUI defense. However, your lawyer will determine what the best defense strategy is after evaluating all the details of your case. Your attorney may use a combination of several of these defense options, which will only create a stronger defense and increase your odds of success in court.

The experienced attorneys at My AZ Criminal Defense Lawyers believe that everyone deserves the best DUI defense possible, and we are ready to provide that for all our clients. Whether we need to show that you were not in actual physical control of your vehicle or need to explore other defense options, we have the knowledge and skill to use all the legal options available to protect your rights. We don’t believe that you should have to pay for your mistake for decades to come, and we don’t believe that being in the wrong place at the wrong time should lead to a costly conviction. Contact us today to learn more about your DUI defense options.

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